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JayRedd
07-17-2007, 06:30 PM
Pretty neato little article.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/nba/article/0,2777,DRMN_23922_5427887,00.html


NBA players cash in on daily allowance of $106 during trips

By Chris Tomasson, Rocky Mountain News
March 18, 2007

At first glance, Jamal Sampson's statistics are minimal, averaging 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds.
But when it comes to saving money on the road, the Nuggets center might have the top numbers on the team.

"I'm the Subway king," said Sampson, prouder of that crown than some have been after being named player of the week. "I don't do room service. I'd rather walk."

Sampson, making $798,112 this season, makes hitting the pavement in an opposing city profitable. NBA players receive $106 per diem on the road for meals and incidentals.

When the Nuggets show up at the airport today to begin a five-game trip, each player will be handed an envelope by athletic trainer Jim Gillen containing $799 in crisp bills. That's for seven days and a prorated day for dinner at $57.

Players can use the money as they choose. They can order room service at a ritzy hotel, which could set them back more than $80 for a meal.

Or, like Sampson, who figures he pockets half his per diem, they can take to the streets.

Then again, it's not out of the question some players could see a large chunk of their per diem vanish before the plane lands tonight in New Jersey in preparation for the game Tuesday against the Nets.

"Man, we gamble away that money right away on the plane," said Nuggets guard DerMarr Johnson, referring to high-stakes card games. "We put it right into the gambling pot."

But Johnson, making $932,015, has his limits. He said he pulled back on a recent trip, not wanting to play for money with some of the higher-salaried players.

'It's a nice little benefit'
The average NBA salary is $5.5 million a year, and the good life doesn't stop there. The teams stay at hotels some marketers now say are six-star. The per diem is $21 more than baseball and hockey players receive.

"It's a nice little benefit," said Nuggets center Marcus Camby, whose salary this season, including bonuses, could exceed $10 million. "They take care of us. But in those fancy hotels, that per diem is probably enough for a breakfast."

Camby is exaggerating a bit. But Nuggets forward Reggie Evans recently dropped $85 for a room service afternoon steak at the swank Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco.

Portland Trail Blazers center Jamaal Magloire spent more than $80 last week for a room service steak at The Westin Tabor Center.

But it's hard to complain too much. In 1957, through much negotiating, Boston Celtics guard Bob Cousy, who helped organize the players' union, got the first per diem in the NBA.

It was $7.

In 1964, the union fought hard for improvements. One they got was an increase of per diem.

It went to $8.

Times have changed. Per diem last season reached the century mark for the first time, at $102. It went up this season, with rules in the collective-bargaining agreement stipulating cost-of-living adjustments.

"It feels like free money," Nuggets guard Steve Blake said.

Sometimes it is. Meals are served on team planes and spreads often are available in the locker room after games.

Envelope, please
The man Nuggets players love to see at the start of a trip is Gillen.

Before each month, he determines how many nights the team will be on the road and sends figures to the accounting department.

On partial days, players are paid about $57 for dinner, $30 for lunch and $19 for breakfast.

Gillen gets the envelopes for each player before a trip. With 13 on the roster, that adds up to $10,387 for this voyage.

"They put their names on (the envelopes)," Gillen said of the accounting department. "I take it to the airplane, and they have to sign for it. I give them the envelope, and away they go."

Gillen keeps two.

Forwards Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony request all their per diem at the end of the season. So Gillen locks up those envelopes until the two are ready.

A Nuggets player going on each preseason and regular-season trip would finish with 26 envelopes and the total take would be about $7,500, though taxes must be paid on about 40 percent of per diem.

Martin, out for the season after undergoing right knee surgery in November, and Anthony, suspended for 15 games earlier in the season, haven't gone on all trips.

"I give them to my nieces and nephews," Martin, making $11.8 million, said of what he does with his envelopes. "They got the price on them. I take it out and count it and give it away."

Camby's hired hand
Martin isn't the only high-salaried Nuggets player willing to part with his per diem. Camby gives envelopes on some trips to guard Yakhouba Diawara in exchange for certain chores performed by the team's only rookie.

Diawara, making the rookie minimum of $412,718, carries some bags and sometimes brings meals to Camby. It doesn't sound as if Diawara buys much for himself.

"There's nothing over a $10 meal for 'Kouba,' " Sampson said. " 'Kouba' will walk three miles. He'll walk around the whole city just to save some money."

Diawara scoffs at Sampson's claims. He said there are days he has only $10 remaining from per diem and spoke about having a $24 breakfast and $40 lunch on a recent trip.

Sampson, though, is proud to be regarded as the team's most frugal player.

"Subway. Quiznos, I'll go to whatever sandwich shop," he said.

Call Sampson the Subway king or the Quiznos king. It might depend on which is giving back the most change.

Big man, big meal
It can get pricey ordering room service at the finest hotels. What Nuggets power forward Reggie Evans had for an afternoon meal recently at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco:

• Steak

• Baked potato

• Bread

• Lemonade

• Ice water*

• Vanilla ice cream

Cost: $85 (including tip). *Free

Per diem data

• NBA per diem: $106, after being $102 last season. It is addressed in the collective-bargaining agreement and increases slightly each season, based on cost of living.

• Introduction of per diem: 1957 ($7).

• Per diem for preseason: A Nuggets player going on all three trips received about $1,000.

• Per diem for regular season: A Nuggets player going on all 23 trips will receive about $6,500.

• Taxes: Must be paid on a certain amount, depending on laws in the city where the team travels. Nuggets athletic trainer Jim Gillen offered a sample city daily figure of $62, so players visiting that city would be taxed on $44 of the per diem (41.5 percent).

'It's kind of like allowance'

Per diem through a sampling of NBA players:

• Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony felt like a kid when he joined the NBA in 2003 and was told the per diem amount. "It's kind of like allowance," he said. "One-hundred dollars a day. That's crazy."

• When guard Chucky Atkins played in the Continental Basketball Association in 1996-97, he received $25 per diem. "It was Burger King, Subway, IHOP, Waffle House, Denny's," Atkins said of his restaurants of choice. When Atkins, now with the Memphis Grizzlies, made the NBA in 1999-2000, he continued those eating habits but soon learned from veterans. "They told me you've got to fuel your body with some good food," said Atkins, saying the advice has helped, and he now uses the bulk of his $106 per diem.

• As the Nuggets' only rookie, guard Yakhouba Diawara has added duties. But don't think he's not compensated. "Sometimes I give it to 'Kouba,' " center Marcus Camby said of his per diem. "He doesn't have the big contracts like a lot of us. I take care of him. I've bought him suits, PlayStation and an iPod." For Camby's generosity, Diawara sometimes carries bags and gets food for Camby. But it doesn't sound like he's overworked. "I just help him out, nothing too much," Diawara said.

• Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is making $12.5 million this season. When he was out for 2 1/2 months earlier this season because of a broken right leg, he was asked by a Houston Chronicle reporter why he went on a certain trip. Yao quipped it was so he could get the "road trip per diem."

• Forward Eduardo Najera is perhaps the Nuggets' most energetic player. He makes sure he doesn't waste his energy on the road trying to save money on food. "In my first two years in the league, I'd go to places like (Denny's)," said Najera, who broke in with the Dallas Mavericks in 2000-01. "But I learned from the veterans it's better to get your rest rather than go walking around. It's an investment to stay off your feet and get (hotel) room service and pay the extra money so you can perform better."

• Money for food? Yes. But New Or- leans/Oklahoma City Hornets guard Devin Brown uses his per diem for a lot more. "DVDs, video games, batteries, headphones. Stuff like that," Brown said.

• A lot has changed in a year for Rockets rookie forward Steve Novak. He played last season for Mar- quette. "We got a $110 check every two weeks," he said. "That's about the same as we get in the NBA for one day."

• So do players dislike two games in two days? Not necessarily. "I love it when we have a back-to-back," Nuggets center Jamal Sampson said. "That means we get free breakfast." If the team's second game of a back-to-back is on the road, the Nuggets have a breakfast meeting at the hotel instead of a shootaround.

tomassonc@RockyMountainNews.com

bellisimo
07-17-2007, 06:39 PM
$100? that's not really much...back when I was working @ GE Healthcare I spent over $1000 during a business trip in one day... :)

bulldog
07-17-2007, 07:47 PM
You should see what European players get. Cars, apartments, chauffer service, etc. in addition to per diems.

Shade
07-17-2007, 08:12 PM
How do these guys stay in shape eating restaurant food and room service all the time?

LG33
07-17-2007, 08:17 PM
I could probably survive my whole life on that per diem (I don't spend a lot) every day. Now, if only I could find me a sponsor...I think Travis Diener owes it to me.

pizza guy
07-17-2007, 08:56 PM
NBA Daily Per Diems

*proudly brought to you by the department of redundancy department with pride.

JayRedd
07-17-2007, 09:43 PM
*proudly brought to you by the department of redundancy department with pride.

You know I don't speak Spanish.

bulldog
07-17-2007, 09:55 PM
How do these guys stay in shape eating restaurant food and room service all the time?

Yea, it's surprising how much NBA teams leave up to the players. You'd think they'd have healthy team meals on the road. Couldn't hurt for camaraderie either.

It's interesting though, NBA teams are really hands off with their players. These guys go off for the offseason, and its up to them to get motivated, work out, eat right, etc. The most I've seen is a team letting a player use their facilities.

Kid Minneapolis
07-18-2007, 12:46 PM
Yea, it's surprising how much NBA teams leave up to the players. You'd think they'd have healthy team meals on the road. Couldn't hurt for camaraderie either.

It's interesting though, NBA teams are really hands off with their players. These guys go off for the offseason, and its up to them to get motivated, work out, eat right, etc. The most I've seen is a team letting a player use their facilities.

What do people think they eat, bamboo shoots and collard greens? They stay in shape by being active and exercising. That goes a looong way towards staying in shape, even if the stuff yer eating isn't top notch.

ABADays
07-18-2007, 12:52 PM
This would drive me nuts at the bargaining table to know some people give it away - others gamble it away. I don't think that is the purpose of per diems or what they were negotiated for.

Kstat
07-18-2007, 12:58 PM
This would drive me nuts at the bargaining table to know some people give it away - others gamble it away. I don't think that is the purpose of per diems or what they were negotiated for.

Not really.

Most guys eventually do buy food...it's just with their own money. Works out the same way.

JayRedd
07-18-2007, 01:07 PM
What do people think they eat, bamboo shoots and collard greens? They stay in shape by being active and exercising. That goes a looong way towards staying in shape, even if the stuff yer eating isn't top notch.

Supposedly, Chad Johnson of the Bengals regularly eats McDonalds like 3 times a day.

Must be nice to be a genetic freak.

bulldog
07-18-2007, 01:09 PM
What do people think they eat, bamboo shoots and collard greens? They stay in shape by being active and exercising. That goes a looong way towards staying in shape, even if the stuff yer eating isn't top notch.

First of all, part of my point was that NBA teams don't exercise any control over how much they exercise and thus whether they stay in shape. See Shaq showing up 1o-20 pounds overweight every season, Marcus Williams huffing and puffing his way through last season, Brad Miller looking like death for the good part of November and December, or any number of players whose careers have been hurt by weight issues (Tractor Traylor, Mike Sweetney, etc.) As you can see, this doesn't extend just to stars like Shaq who would balk at any attempt to control their lives, but also guys struggling to make it. NBA teams seem to just throw up their hands and go, "its up to you."

Secondly, its not all about calories. I'm sure they could eat two big macs a day and come out even on caloric intake, and yet they'd still keel over by the end of the first quarter.

These are supposed to be the best athletes in the world, whose bodies take a toll the rest of us don't face. One of the reasons Nash is still in one piece, despite a bad back that could have ended his career long ago (and one of the reasons Cuban let him go), is his supposedly immaculate excercise and diet regime. Why don't teams mandate or otherwise attempt to enforce this, rather than leaving it up to individual players?

JayRedd
07-18-2007, 01:14 PM
Why don't teams mandate or otherwise attempt to enforce this, rather than leaving it up to individual players?

Because I believe that would be illegal.

I do hear what you're saying, however. Long-term, guarenteed contracts don't exactly promote dedication in the Summer. Unfortunately, very few guys have a Jerry Rice/Karl Malone-level dedication to maintaining their bodies.

bulldog
07-18-2007, 01:20 PM
Because I believe that would be illegal.


You can mandate practice. Why can't you mandate attendance at an all-you-can-eat grilled chicken and veggies buffet? Fine, I guess you can't actually force-feed them, but still...

Unless you mean its against the CBA. I guess I wouldn't be surprised.

Kstat
07-18-2007, 01:23 PM
You can mandate practice. Why can't you mandate attendance at an all-you-can-eat grilled chicken and veggies buffet? Fine, I guess you can't actually force-feed them, but still...

Unless you mean its against the CBA. I guess I wouldn't be surprised.

...because it would be a very dumb thing to argue with the CBA over.

For a billion-dollar corporation like the NBA, $100 per player per day is pocket change. Who really cares how they spend it? Why should they even care?

bulldog
07-18-2007, 01:31 PM
...because it would be a very dumb thing to argue with the CBA over.

For a billion-dollar corporation like the NBA, $100 per player per day is pocket change. Who really cares how they spend it? Why should they even care?

Cause you're making a million dollar investment in these guys, and a lot of them don't take care of themselves. Now you got Mike Sweetney on the end of your bench, making millions of dollars, but totally ineffective because he apparently used those $100 a day to eat nothing but twinkies, or Brad Miller, who's a very effective player when he's healthy and in shape, totally killing your cap room.

I'm not saying they could get it past the player's union, or what concessions they'd have to make, but I think it would be extremely worthwhile for teams to have a little more say in player's nutrition habits.

Kstat
07-18-2007, 01:35 PM
Cause you're making a million dollar investment in these guys, and a lot of them don't take care of themselves.

the vast majority do. If they don't take care of themselves, they aren't playing and probably out of the league when their contracts are up.


Now you got Mike Sweetney on the end of your bench, making millions of dollars, but totally ineffective because he apparently used those $100 a day to eat nothing but twinkies, or Brad Miller, who's a very effective player when he's healthy and in shape, totally killing you cap room.

Oh dear lord, Mike Sweetney is stealing money. The world will never be the same. How will the NBA survive with Mike Sweetney taking up a roster spot?

And he's on a rookie contract! Someone please think of the children (he'll eat)....



I'm not saying they could get it past the player's union, or what concessions they'd have to make, but I think it would be extremely worthwhile for teams to have a little more say in player's nutrition habits.

It's a completely overblown issue. Most NBA players that are worth anything keep themselves in great shape. Unless you're name is Shaq or...Shaq, no NBA player can keep his job and not be in condition.

JayRedd
07-18-2007, 01:35 PM
You can mandate practice. Why can't you mandate attendance at an all-you-can-eat grilled chicken and veggies buffet? Fine, I guess you can't actually force-feed them, but still...

Unless you mean its against the CBA. I guess I wouldn't be surprised.

No, I mean I believe it's illegal in America for an employer to dictate what an employee eats. I know it's a pro-sport so the general perception is that these guys are cattle, but I just can't fathom a legal contract ever being able to factor actual diet into the equation.

I suppose you could hold mantatory breakfast/lunch/dinner functions, but forcing extra mandatory hours into player's contract requirements would have to result in larger salaries. And like KStat says, none of that's worth enough for owners to waste time/money negotiating over.

The best course of action would probably be to research a player's eating habits prior to drafting/signing them if it's such a concern for you as an employer. For the most part, these guys are eating pretty right anyway.

bulldog
07-18-2007, 01:42 PM
It's a completely overblown issue. Most NBA players that are worth anything keep themselves in great shape. Unless you're name is Shaq or...Shaq, no NBA player can keep his job and not be in condition.

Off the top of my head...

Vin Baker (even after he got the alcohol under control, he was still fat), Shawn Kemp, Greg Ostertag, Marcus Williams, Brad Miller, Boris Diaw (came in overweight, took him two months to get in shape, one of the reasons he played sub-par this season). I'm sure you could think of others.

And like I said, you could mandate team meals on practice and game days. I don't think you'd have to start paying guys $30 million a year to agree to this. Free catered meals seem like kind of a perk, no? And a lot of these guys are young, single, and don't make quite enough money to have a personal chef on staff cooking hot meals at all times. It seems like it would work.

I can't believe I'm spending this much time arguing about NBA player eating habits. :laugh:

avoidingtheclowns
07-18-2007, 01:53 PM
i actually agree with bulldog, i think that teams should provide meals for their players. its just like when you attend conferences and there are dinner functions or luncheons. the meal is provided. its part of the job. you just simply lower the per diem to allow for some basic road expenses but then rookies and min salary players can have quality meals without feeling they've got to walk all over the city for a quiznos.

and just like conferences, i don't think you have to make it mandatory but if players choose not to dine with the team, they pay out of their own pocket or the reduced per diem. if you reduce it to say $50 instead the other half of that goes to pay for the team meals. so its still a benefit.


No, I mean I believe it's illegal in America for an employer to dictate what an employee eats.

most employers aren't paying American's hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to work 8-9 months of the year. and like i said above it doesn't have to be mandatory (unless like the practice-replacement breakfasts that they talk about above), but i think teams should encourage that type of stuff because A) yes it is an investment B) it helps rookies like Diawara or Sampson (or Greene or Rawle etc). the per diem is a benefit or a perk, they could easily replace that with free meals 3x a day. thats an awfully nice benefit that most American employees never get unless they go crazy on a company account.

JayRedd
07-18-2007, 01:55 PM
I can't believe I'm spending this much time arguing about NBA player eating habits. :laugh:

Nor can I.

Meanwhile, some of the guys you listed had drug and alcohol problems and things like that aren't going to stop them from not taking care of themselves.

And with other guys, it's not going to matter that they ate a chicken salad after practice if they still go out and drink a dozen Red Bull and vodkas that night and then stop by WhiteCastle on the way home and don't sleep right.

Besides, these buffets are often provided already on a voluntary basis and a lot of guys don't take advantage because it's not really a perk to millionaires. A lot of guys just want to go home, or back to their hotel room to play video games/do whatever they do when they aren't required to be somewhere.

Regardless, all this stuff would only help during the season, which isn't really the problem anyway. You can't mandate anything during the summer when players are on vacation...and that's when dudes get fat and don't work out.

Kstat
07-18-2007, 01:56 PM
the per diem is a benefit or a perk, they could easily replace that with free meals 3x a day. thats an awfully nice benefit that most American employees never get unless they go crazy on a company account.

Why do people keep the job of a comparing pro athlete to the job of your everyday average joe? It's ridiculous.

ABADays
07-18-2007, 01:57 PM
No, I mean I believe it's illegal in America for an employer to dictate what an employee eats.

Hm - maybe it won't happen in the NBA but you think Corporate America isn't headed in that direction?

Kstat
07-18-2007, 01:59 PM
Hm - maybe it won't happen in the NBA but you think Corporate America isn't headed in that direction?

Corporate america has the power because their employees can be easily replaced. The NBA doesn't.

Robobtowncolt
07-18-2007, 02:02 PM
Hm - maybe it won't happen in the NBA but you think Corporate America isn't headed in that direction?

Hey, if my health insurance premiums keep going up because people think 3 deep fried lunches is a good idea.....

JayRedd
07-18-2007, 02:04 PM
the per diem is a benefit or a perk, they could easily replace that with free meals 3x a day. thats an awfully nice benefit that most American employees never get unless they go crazy on a company account.

Umm...No, they couldn't.

Like the article says, Bob Cousy fought for this in the 50s and it's now such an ingrained part of the NBA contract/CBA that it would actually be something the player's union would require concessions for.

The teams aren't just giving out $106 per day as a "perk," it's mandated by a league-wide contract agreement that is rigorously hammered out and fought for in a ridiculously detailed way every few years.


Corporate america has the power because their employees can be easily replaced. The NBA doesn't.

They also don't have a union. It's pretty tough to take a single dollar away from a union.

Naptown_Seth
07-18-2007, 02:04 PM
Because I believe that would be illegal.

I do hear what you're saying, however. Long-term, guarenteed contracts don't exactly promote dedication in the Summer. Unfortunately, very few guys have a Jerry Rice/Karl Malone-level dedication to maintaining their bodies.
Of course if they were financially smart they would, because with proper diet and training comes longevity and improved numbers when you walk out into the FA market maybe 2-3 times in your career.

Sure a guy might earn 70m (10 years/7m) and that's enough, but by playing below his level and for 6-7 less years he just left maybe as much as another 90m (16 years/10m) on the table all because he wasn't motivated enough or didn't see the big picture.


Why do people keep comparing the job of a pro athlete to the job of your everyday average joe? It's ridiculous.
I agree. And as pointed out by Belli, you probably don't want to know the per diems and perks that a lot of other jobs are getting. You think athletes are getting more than they deserve, at least we actually get enjoyment out of their work. There are probably bigger per diems and big fat stock perks going to people who literally don't do a single thing that benefits the average citizen in any way (cough health care industry cough marketing cough insurance cough), and perhaps are even impacting the average joe in a negative way in order to earn that money.

cramerica
07-18-2007, 02:11 PM
Why do people keep the job of a comparing pro athlete to the job of your everyday average joe? It's ridiculous.
It is a little ridiculous to compare jobs. The fact that they make millions of dollars and I make not even 1% of what they make and work twice as hard is one good reason.

I do think that they should work out in the off-season under the staff of the team they play for. I always thought it was weird that Tins and the other guys would go off on their own.

Naptown_Seth
07-18-2007, 02:11 PM
BTW, I've stayed in hotels with NFL teams the night before a game 3 different times (Colts, Rams, Panthers), and 2 of those were home games (Colts, Panthers). I have talked to staff of the hotels and even one of the Rams coaches about this process, mainly because the first time was the Colts over at the Marriot (there for a wedding myself) and it surprised me.

The reason they do it (at least the Colts for certain) is so they can control the eating and sleeping patterns of players before the game, and that includes stuff like sodium and vitamin intake, not just basic "don't party" crap. You'll get certain amounts of whatever works best for your body at X hours before the game, much like runners/cyclists do in order to hit peak performance right at game time. They run things a lot more scientificially than NBA teams apparently do based on this article, at least some of the teams. The Rams apparently don't (didn't) use a hotel for home games.

Imagine if Sam Hornish just showed up at the 500 after topping his fuel tank off at the local BP. "No worries Roger, I already got the fuel with my per diem". :eek:

bulldog
07-18-2007, 02:22 PM
The reason they do it (at least the Colts for certain) is so they can control the eating and sleeping patterns of players before the game, and that includes stuff like sodium and vitamin intake, not just basic "don't party" crap. You'll get certain amounts of whatever works best for your body at X hours before the game, much like runners/cyclists do in order to hit peak performance right at game time. They run things a lot more scientificially than NBA teams apparently do based on this article, at least some of the teams. The Rams apparently don't (didn't) use a hotel for home games.

Imagine if Sam Hornish just showed up at the 500 after topping his fuel tank off at the local BP. "No worries Roger, I already got the fuel with my per diem". :eek:

Great comparison, and great points.

I'll agree, as some have mentioned, often the off-season is a bigger issue than the regular season, and that would be impossible to negotiate into the CBA. But it couldn't hurt to do it in the regular season, maybe guys can develop healthy habits.

Also, no one has mentioned the camaraderie aspect of this. Yea, it seems a little silly at first, but I think eating meals together goes a long way toward developing a sense of team unity.

Finally, I'll say this, and then I'm done. Everytime a player has a better-than-average year, the local paper will run a little "Hey, he's really got it together piece." Inevitably, they'll talk about his off-season, how he jogged 5 miles daily and biked another fifteen, how he lifted weights and made five hundred shots a day. And, almost every single damn time, the player will say something like "I even hired a personal chef, I dropped 15 pounds and I feel great!" I just think an investment in team meals during the regular season would be a beneficial investment (counting whatever it takes to get it into the CBA), but NBA teams don't do it as part of a larger hands-off approach they take with their players. And for the money thats invested in them, I think that's a mistake.

Damn it, trade JO so I have something relevant to talk about.

avoidingtheclowns
07-18-2007, 04:01 PM
Why do people keep the job of a comparing pro athlete to the job of your everyday average joe? It's ridiculous.

i compared it because JayRedd said it was illegal to do that in America... which goes beyond just a professional sports league to anyone that works.